Thursday, January 31, 2008

Left-Wing Paranoia Squared

Why is there so much paranoia on the left? Not necessarily because they are inherently paranoid, as in someone with a Paranoid Personality Disorder or Persecutory Delusional Disorder. Rather, paranoia is first and foremost a psychological defense mechanism that arises in infancy, when our psychological boundaries are so fluid and porous, and we are easily able to relieve stress by projecting the bad content of our psyche into the external world. If the mind couldn't do that, it would be a closed system from which we could never escape, for example, by means of truth or love. But it is also possible to affect a faux escape through means of lies and hatred.

Psychological defenses become heightened in times of stress. In fact, that is their primary purpose: to help the psyche cope with stress, pain, and frustration.

Stress results from the mind's need to adapt to change. The past two and a-half decades have been extremely stressful for liberals. Prior to that, they had control over most everything: the presidency, the congress, the judiciary, the media, academia, entertainment, virtually all professional societies, talk radio, ecomomic theory, etc. But gradually they have seen their power erode in all these areas, with no prospect of ever regaining it to the previous extent. Loss of control is profoundly stressful in itself, but what is even more stressful is the alienation that comes from seeing one's internal world no longer reflected in the external world. Just look at how intolerant the left is of a single non-leftist source of TV news, FNC. It drives them crazy.

We all carry an unconscious image of how the world should be, and when the world conforms to that image, we feel at peace. But to live in a world that clashes with that template is extremely jarring, and causes an irruption of anger or depression, depending upon the person. One must either grow and adapt to the real world, or, in the case of so many liberals, regress into paranoia about it.

This is why leftist arguments are always so emotional and persecutory: on the ground floor level of their psyche, they are angry, frightened, and frustrated about the loss of their beautiful group fantasy, and then project those feelings into the right, in a vicious circle. It's the same thing a baby would feel toward its mother if, say, they were abruptly weaned before they were ready... not that the welfare state is like a giant teat or anything. Obviously, it's the same thing Islamists do in response to modernity. You'd be paranoid too if you woke up one day to find your watch running about 700 years slow.

I remember a histrionic speech (is there any other kind?) given a few years back by Al Gore that typifies the mental process we're discussing here, about how President Bush supposedly betrayed our trust! He played on our fears!

On another occasion he bellowed, "I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America’s fabled 'marketplace of ideas' now functions."

Psychologist's translation:

"I trusted daddy and he let me down! I hate him! The more I hate him, the more he frightens me, and the more he frightens me, the more I hate him! He's a big monster! The anxiety I am feeling is a grave danger to my emotional stability. I can't ignore the strangeness of a world that no longer mirrors my deepest infantile needs. I know that I am not the only left-wing paranoiac who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in our fantasy world of liberal utopia, which has been stolen from us by a tyrannical father who wants to keep mommy all to himself and ravage her with his big c-carbon footprint. Together, let's steal mother earth back from the bad father, merge with her, and heal together in blissful union."


One of the most important elements of paranoia is how it affects cognition. In other words, it is not just the content of the paranoid mind, but its process, which is troublesome.

That is, the paranoid person engages in a caricature of thought, in which they carefully scan the environment for confirmation of the paranoid thought or idea. This has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. For example, Noam Chomsky might well possess a genius IQ, and yet, if you read his works, you can see that he is helpless in the face of his dark paranoia. All of his considerable intelligence is marshalled in the effort to confirm his preordained paranoid beliefs about how sinister America and Israel are, in an absolutely closed loop. In turn, Chomsky becomes the intellectual axis around which other, far less intelligent paranoids of the Daily Kos variety, orient themselves through the magic of his authority.

Every clinician knows that you cannot argue with a paranoid. Doing so immediately raises their paranoid defenses, and they will simply incorporate you into their delusions. Rather, you must lay back, remain non-commital, and almost use a Socratic, "rope-a-dupe" method in dealing with them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this on a national level. In other words, you can do it with an individual, but how do you deal with mass paranoia?

Ironically -- but then again, I suppose not -- even though there is now more information available than ever before, there is also more opportunity than ever before for a paranoid community to enclose itself in a hermetically sealed cognitive loop that prevents contact with reality. Therefore, increased freedom of speech can just as easily lead to a contraction of one's psycho-spiritual worldspace. How can this be?

The philosopher Michael Polanyi drew a sharp distinction between what he called a "free society" and an "open society," using the practice of science to illustrate his point. A truly free society doesn't merely consist of everyone believing whatever they want. Science, for example, is a free and spontaneous intellectual order that is nevertheless based on a distinctive set of beliefs about the world, through which the diverse actions of individual scientists are coordinated. Like the cells in your body, individual scientists independently go about their business, and yet, progress is made because their activities are channelled by the pursuit of real truth.

In contrast, in a merely "open" society, there is no such thing as transcendent truth: perception is reality, and everyone is free to think and do as he pleases, with no objective standard by which to to judge it. This kind of "bad freedom" eventually ramifies into the cognitively pathological situation we now see on the left, especially as it manifests in its pure form in academia (the liberal arts, not the sciences). This is one reason it mystifies me that George Soros could think himself an acolyte of Polanyi, since their beliefs are 180 degrees apart (appropriately enough, Soros' fascistic political foundation is called "The Open Society Institute").

The deep structure of the left-right divide in this country goes well beyond secular vs. religious worldviews. A purely secular society is an open society, where all points of view, no matter how stupid or dysfunctional, are equally valued (eg, multi-culturalism and moral relativism), whereas a truly free society must be anchored in what is permanent and transcendent. It doesn't necessarily have to come from religion, although it inevitably leads in that direction.

Mainly, in order to truly be free, one must acknowledge a source of truth that is independent of man, an antecedent reality that is perceived by the intellect, not the senses. Miraculously, our founders knew that the self-evident truths which constrain us actually set us free. In contrast, left-wing ACLU types think that mere freedom sets us free, which is preposterous. This is to confuse being lost with being free.

In the real world (i.e., the archetypal vertical world), responsibilities are antecedent to rights, for a right has no meaning in the absence of its virtuous end, just as intelligence has no purpose in the absence of truth. Thus, the most proudmouthed advocates of "intellectual freedom" unwittingly argue for intellectual tyranny, or mandatory error.


NoMo said...

"But gradually they have seen their power erode in all these areas, with no prospect of ever regaining it to the previous extent." So that's what "global warming" is all about -both "intellectual tyranny" and "mandatory error". I'm almost worried about what they will attempt once that fails. Or, maybe I'm just paranoid...

jwm said...

Much of the left seems motivated by the busybody impulse, a need to fix, control, manipulate others "for their own good". And junk science has become one of the most effective weapons in their crusade to set the world right. Second hand smoke is a perfect example. It doesn't matter that no statistical evidence bears out any of the claims made for the so-called danger. It was, and is preached as fact. Cigarette smoking isn't good for you. Done in excess it can lead to serious health problems. That was common knowledge fifty years ago. But it wasn't enough to demonize the tobacco companies. It wasn't enough to discourage people from smoking. Touting second hand smoke as a major danger shifted the focus. It gave people permission to demonize smokers. Suddenly the world had a new enemy. Suddenly it was OK to single out individuals for persecution. People just love a convenient enemy. Look at the result. You can now be pulled over and ticketed for smoking in your own car, if your kids are on board. You can be ticketed for smoking outdoors. You can be ticketed for smoking on the beach. The busybodies won bigtime, and the world is less free than it was before.
Now it's carbon feetprints, greenhouse gasses, and melting polar bears. Just wait and see how much legislation will be passed. Wait and see how many little freedoms we'll just have to do without, how many surcharges, excess usage fines, and out and out taxes we'll have to endure in the name of saving the earth.


schoolmarm said...

"This is one reason it mystifies me that George Soros could think himself an acolyte of Polanyi ... (appropriately enough, Soros' fascistic political foundation is called "The Open Society Institute")".

I thought Soros had a Popper fixation and that is where his "Open Society" slant came from. Is he also interested in Polanyi?

Anonymous said...

The left is paranoid? How do you account for John McCain? Oh yeah, he is a leftist.

ham sammich said...

When one is shot with an arrow having a broadhead-style tip, one must paradoxically push the arrow farther into the wound in order to extract it. If you try to rip it out backwards, you will just create more damage.

This analogy holds true, Bob, for the type of dysfunctional ideologies you are discussing. If you try to root them out of the national psyche by pulling on them (i.e, trying to debunk or reverse them), you'll just create more chaos.

Instead, try to propel them forward to their absurd conclusions (in this way they exit cleanly from the flesh of the national ideology).

An example of this would be drugs. Leftists were all about the cannabis, the legalization of drugs, the coolness of smoking pot, etc. Our society pretty much got very stoned for a very many years until it just kind of pooped out on it. It lost momentum because it was stupid.

Leftist by and large don't do drugs anymore. They sip Chardonnay. Because, drugs are certifiably stupid and so now they know.

So, for any program they can dream up, let them run it into the ground and experience the absurdity of the position.

So what's your peeve? Affirmative action? Let them run amok. What will be the absurd conclusion? I can't even concieve of it but it must be there.

The bottom line is: let the kids experiment. They never do that much harm anyway.

Lew Ciffer said...

I am a lefty, and I recognize the delusional aspects of the ideology. However, as a mechanism of coercion, manipulation and control, PC is the best thing going and I tend to gravitate towards an ideology with the maximum influence.

WHAT ideology you work within is not as important as how much INFLUENCE it has on others. The whole purpose of ideology is to seize control of a given society and wring the maximum benefits for oneself from it.

So to you, Bob, I give high grades for speaking truth but must say that speaking truth is not going to do anything for your side.

Come over to our side and put your persuasive powers to work, and reap the fame that is sure to come your way. Consider it, at least.

Gagdad Bob said...

I knew about Popper, but I thought I'd read somewhere that Soros also admired Polanyi, but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

''lew ciffer'' Hey, I remember that movie. Angel Heart.....1987 Mickey Rourke....Robert De Niro.

Voltron said...

As Janis Joplin once sang, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

hoarhey said...

So Hammy,

What is your recommendation for Prez in order to jam the death shaft of socialism even further towards oblivion, Hill or Hussein Obama?
The table is set in the Congress.

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USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I had stress once, but it wasn't worth gettin' stressed out about.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Happy February 1st!
Isn't today a major holiday in the Upper Tonga?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good point, JWM.
Now they're goin' after "junk" food. They better not touch my Ding Dongs, or there'll be hell to pay!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

In New Mexico they have a sure fire way to overcome childhood obesity:
More taxes on telivisions and video games.

Somehow I'm not seeing the logic behind that solution.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speakin' of paranoia:
The Berkeley fascists consider our Marines to be "unwanted intruders."

I say let's give them somethin' to be paranoid about. Light up the switchboards of the Governator.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

No, you ain't paranoid. Much.
After that it'll be global cooling again or y2k+10.
They got dozens of apocalypses to choose from.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ham sammich said:
"Leftist by and large don't do drugs anymore."

Snort! Yeah, right.

"The bottom line is: let the kids experiment. They never do that much harm anyway."

You've been doin' drugs again, haven't you?
BTW, your analogy doesn't work with time bombs.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I think Soros admires Karl Polanyi more, but with both he simply distorts everything they said.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I wonder what's worse, PPD or PDD?

debass said...

PhD is the worst.

Anonymous said...

Bob...I listened to your interview on, and just after I began to respect you...I find this blog. Why wouldn't you choose to use your knowledge for good? Besides, persecuting the far-left is basically the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel (or persecuting the far-right, for that matter); they're both extremists! They’re both paranoid and delusional; both have lost sight of the good, the true and the beautiful. Their realities are fragmented, and their perceptions are colored with the respective red or blue in which they reside. Neither embodies the true potentials of our democracy, let alone our humanity; but at least the left seem to be equipped with a relative freedom of thought. Undoubtedly, this type of cognition may lead to an out-stepping of certain political/moral/social boundaries, but at least it’s not boxing in our worldview. On the road to true freedom and equality, I’d much rather be working with an open mind(which, in fact, is the only way to proceed). You see, while conservatives are constantly busy arousing fear of change, the liberals are busy trying to interpret and resolve these fears - through change! Republicans claim to be worried about protecting us from terrorism, but they are ignorant of the underlying motivations which drive such hatred and convolution. They’re purportedly worried about the energy crisis, but they are unconcerned with pursuing any serious endeavors to provide renewable alternatives. They claim to support the working, middle-class, but they have only served to lengthen the gap between the have and have-nots. While FNC and CNN are busy promoting political propaganda and satisfying celebrity gossip fetishes, our nation suffers a sort of quiet desperation. Our world is starved for change through/from understanding; and while liberal politics may fall victim to human immorality, depravity or mere exploitation , they may also change the world. And I for one believe it’s not only worth the risk, it’s necessary.

Ps: for all of you debating, criticizing, or just flat out denying the effects of climate change, stop confirming your ignorance and wake up! This is no longer debatable - it empirical (and apparent) fact! This is not the end of the world, but it should be the beginning of a new one - one that recognizes the good, the true, and the beautiful.

ximeze said...

Good Lord, another bozo via wie

Anonymous said...

thank goodness we have the nerd patrol on guard, though.

debass said...

I'm all for reducing CO2. Let's start by reducing the number of CO2 emitters. Any volunteers? If not. we could step up activities in the ME. That would not only help the GWOT but also eliminate a number of CO2 emitters. If we do it on a large scale, we can also reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons at the same time. How could the left not love us after that? If you are uncomfortable with this idea, just think of it as very late term government sponsored abortions. I know that it would make me happy.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bravo Zulu! LOL! According to Leftists abortion does cut down on crime, so it goes without sayin' that it would cut down on terrorism.
They hate it when you use their own "logic" against them. :^)